1. The Kids: Funny enough, there are MORE of them now!
On September 15th, Taylor's 7th birthday, we welcomed Nolan Ryan Harvey Chapman to the family. Yes, he is named after the Nolan Ryan (Texas Rangers pitcher) and the Harvey McCullough (my grandfather :) ) and yes, it is a mouthful. However, now I can't imagine him being called anything else. It fits him just right, although I have been known to call him Roley Poley Noley now and again because of his delightful chubbiness. I've always wanted a baby with rolls, but mine have always been so tiny! Well, not Nolan. He is a roll and a half and I LOVE IT.
The big kids have transitioned to him just wonderfully. They all adore him, even Allie, who is careful to be "Gento" (gentle) with him. Taylor is the biggest help, she loves her "Birthday Mate", as she calls him, and always wants to pick him up if he cries and change his diaper and mother him. I had no idea an older child could be so helpful. She is wonderful. David doesn't really seem to notice Nolan that much, except for every now and then he runs up to me while I'm holding him and say "I just need a quick snuggle with my baby brother." Love it.
Transitioning from 3 to 4 has been... different than I expected. It hasn't been as hard as going from 1 to 2, but it hasn't been as easy as going from 2 to 3. I think that with Taylor and David I was learning who I was as a parent and with Allie I already knew that and adding one more to the mix wasn't that hard. With Nolan, I know how I parent and babies and nursing and lack of sleep don't make me nervous, so that isn't hard. Now I feel like I'm learning that there is just less down time with more kids.
You are always juggling as a parent, but it seems that with each child/activity you add to your life you are obtaining a higher level of skill. When I finally got used to juggling two kids, adding that third one to the mix really wasn't that hard. Adding homeschooling to the mix was a little harder, and adding Nolan to that is a little harder as well. It's not any of the individual components, it's the whole. I guess I expected to have a harder time with one thing or the other, not with maintaining the level of attention required to keep everything moving along.
So, really, the difficulty in transition hasn't come from any resentment towards Nolan himself, just with learning how to make sure that everything gets done that needs to get done. And there are a lot more "needs" than "shoulds" now.
Thankfully, there is a LOT of grace involved in this and there is a quick learning curve. It will never cease to amaze me how once the baby is here you can not believe that you ever thought your family could be complete without him. Our family without Nolan? Ridiculous.
2. Dave & I: As always, we are the best of pals.
In fabulous news, Dave recently got a promotion! He is now Vice President of Sales at his company and I couldn't be more proud. He works very, very hard and never lets anything stay undone and I am so pleased that his bosses recognized that. Everyone should have a Dave in their life.
However, with me taking care of a wee little nursling and Dave feeling more responsibility at work, it's been very difficult to find time together. I know we felt the same way after having Allie, so I know that we will find our groove again soon, but in the mean time we are working on ways to keep our Pal-ness at the level we enjoy. We have our weekly Stay At Home Date Night, we are looking into getting weekly babysitting for an hour or so to have a "Real" coffee date, and we are setting aside time each weekend to plan together for the week ahead so we are always on the same page.
The date night is something we started when Little David was born and we have never stopped. Lately, though, we've been lax on the kids going to bed early and zoning out on our phones too much and not really making it a real "Date". So, the phones/computer have been going down and we've been focusing on the "Date" part better.
The Coffee Date is something new we are trying. We're are looking at getting a girl from church to come and watch all four kids for an hour while we run to Starbucks once a week and hang out. Just a mid-week pick up, if you will. I'm not quite ready to leave Nolan for longer than that, so this works out great.
Our Planning Night is a life-saver. Seriously. Each weekend we set aside some time while the kids are playing or sleeping and we go over all the things we need to actually talk about. Money, travel plans, holidays, honey-do's, school things, etc. Anything that we need to sit and discuss we set aside for this day. Dave catches me up on money stuff, I catch him up on school stuff and things that we need to be thinking about. We talk about any upcoming plans for the week and by the end of it we are on the same page and there isn't any "Wait, we're doing what next weekend? But I thought we were supposed to do such-and-such." I like to think of it as a Household Business Date :)
3. School: Doubt-filled and Fabulous
I love homeschooling. Love it. But there are so very many times that I doubt if what we are doing is the best thing. Thankfully, Dave is always there to give me an unbiased opinion. He is no where near as emotionally invested in homeschooling as I am and I know that if it becomes a stumbling block for our family, he will be the one to point it out. He is only interested in the quality of education they are receiving, my enjoyment of teaching, and the happiness of each child. So, when we've had a rough day and I think that Tot will NEVER learn to spell correctly and David will NEVER want to sit down and learn anything for more than 5 minutes, Dave just lets me vent. And then reminds me that the kids are all happy, they are all crazy smart, and that when I just relax, I love teaching. So, mental note: Relax and Enjoy Teaching, Unsinkable.
In summation, things are good. Busy and sometimes overwhelming, but good. And we all know that all I need to handly Busy and Overwhelming is a little DDP. And friend, I buy that in bulk.